There Is No Basis for Trying to Protect Anyone

Troy Record [Albany NY]
April 12, 2004

It was a long time coming, but we now know that Rev. John Minkler, who was found dead in his Watervliet home in February, likely committed suicide.

Why it took so long for the Albany County Coroner to release this information remains unclear.

Minkler allegedly wrote a letter in the mid-1990s to Cardinal John O'Connor that charged Bishop Howard Hubbard with having sexual relations with other priests in the Albany Diocese, as well as naming many priests who allegedly participated in homosexual activities. A few days before his death, Minkler signed an affidavit stating he never wrote the letter to O'Connor.

Bishop Hubbard, meanwhile, has publicly denied every allegation of sexual misconduct, including those brought forth by people associated with attorney John Aretakis, who represents numerous alleged victims of clergy sex abuse. In order to clear his name, the diocese hired former U.S. attorney Mary Jo White to investigate the charges against the bishop.

With all that is swirling around the diocese, it would make sense that the coroner's office would have expedited the investigation into Minkler's death, and released that information in a public way, not through rumors and telephone calls to homes.

What this kind of activity does is plant the seed further in the minds of those who are against the bishop that there is a conspiracy to make the diocese's problems go away. It fuels the outcry from those Catholics who want the church to regress to those dark days when the congregation didn't know what the priest was doing or saying, when symbols came first and people finished second.

Today, people like Howard Hubbard are leading Catholics to understand that the people are the church. He has been aggressive in the effort to clear his name, and we are certain that when White's investigation is finished, she will have a highly public announcement of her findings.

In the meantime, officials in Albany County should be as open as we believe White will be. There is no basis for trying to protect anyone in the case against the bishop. It's bigger than all the parties involved, and it should be treated as such.